Sprewell’s appetite for disruption

Chris Cadelago

In the United States the poverty rate is lingering just under 13 percent. Parents and guardians across the country have trouble clothing, sheltering and, yes, feeding their children. At the same time overpaid, over hyped and over-publicized athletes continue to gripe about their bloated salaries.

At the beginning of the NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves offered guard Latrell Sprewell, who made $14.5 million this season, a three-year extension to his contract worth $27 million.

Instead of taking the money, shutting his mouth and hitting the gym to work on his jump shot, he vehemently declined the offer saying, “I’ve got to feed my family.”

Unless Sprewell has the jackrabbit track record of former NBA All-Star Shawn Kemp, who has seven children with six women, his grocery tab can’t possibly be so high.

Sprewell, a 34-year-old swingman with declining talent, spent time with the New York Knicks and has never been fond of the media. While playing for the Golden State Warriors in 1997 he choked then-coach P.J. Carlesimo during an argument.

In Minnesota, Sprewell has managed to stir things up both on and off the court. He was given a misdemeanor citation for an argument with a police officer Oct. 26, 2004. His behavior has alienated him from both the organization and police department. He doesn’t care, because with him, as it is with most athletes, it’s all about the money.

Athletes in our society are grossly overpaid and don’t take responsibility for their actions. They are role models to rich kids living in the suburbs and poor kids living in the slums, and they should act accordingly. Most of them are treated like kings instead of what they really are-deadbeats with a jump shot.

Sprewell embarrassed himself and the game by making it all about money. Contract negotiations in this day and age are disgusting and have no merit. Players are paid based on the quality of their agents instead of their performance on the court.

NBA Commissioner David Stern reported Friday that league revenues declined despite a major spike in attendance, yet greedy players continue to demand larger contracts. After a brawl to open this NBA season, Stern can only hope things get better. We have reached a time when no news is good news said Stern, the top dog in a league that desperately needs an image makeover.

According to Ron Thomas’ book “They Cleared the Lane: The NBA’s Black Pioneers,” around 80 percent of the league is black. The poverty rate for African Americans in the United States is 25 percent. These “poor people” are families of five and six making well under $20,000 a year. Sprewell’s comment is not only insensitive; it gives us all an idea of just how out of touch with reality these players are. Fathers struggling to put food on the table are not among America’s top earners like Sprewell.

It’s bad enough he has squandered his talent and dirtied his image with sloppy, selfish play over the years, but when he spit on the game that made him rich, he showed his true color—green.

A few years ago Sprewell began producing car wheels, or rims, appropriately called “Sprewells.” On top of his huge salary, he has made a pretty penny from this endeavor. Measuring a minimum of 20 inches in diameter, they consist of an outer shell with an inner design that spins. They have become the Rolex for the modern athlete. A status symbol athletes use to assure themselves that all the hard work has finally paid off. He produces the piece of status kids play ball in the street for; He embodies everything that is wrong with our society and is wrong with the NBA.

Stern helped create the hip-hop image the NBA markets itself after. It’s now his job to repair all the damage a broken season leaves behind. By setting a salary cap on players based on performance he could avoid nasty negations in the future.

With the NBA playoffs in full swing every team involved has the opportunity to become champions. They can hoist the championship trophy above their heads and celebrate while millions of kids across the country emulate their every move.

Only 12 players will be crowned a champion. However, when the season ends every player in the league can become a champion by going out into their community with their fat checkbook open and proving us all wrong by feeding someone else’s family.